Friday, March 31, 2023

“Something About This Place” by Thrillhouse – A Song Feature


     A downhome warmth is spun by guitars and aided by the kickdrum to signal the song’s nostalgic message of looking back at a youthful past and also forward with a resolution to move on. Thrillhouse released the title track from their upcoming album, “Something About This Place.” The duo explains that the album in general and the title track in particular reflect upon times in the sleepy seaside resort town Bognor Regis, UK.
     Our sometimes embarrassingly flawed understandings of the lyrics are included at the bottom of this post. “Something About This Place” talks about remembering being 10, commenting that “things will never be that good again.” There is also a reference to the girl who “showed me how.” The lyrics shift between the recognition that it is time to move on and the irresistibility of the recollections.
     Thrillhouse begin their single with a cozy feel, which is driven by an appealing guitar riff having a Southern touch. Then, the tempo jumps up a level when “Something About This Place” reaches the chorus. The jump seems well timed with the idea of memories "flooding back." At that point, the rhythm becomes a driving factor within the song. Still, the instrumental highlight doesn’t appear until the guitar solo that begins at 2:47. Later, the outro holds its own, particularly with the growing presence of the piano.
     Thrillhouse are based in Brighton, UK. While talking about their single, vocalist Sam Strawberry explained, "I was really lucky, I had a happy childhood, we didn't have a lot back then but I swear the sun was always shining...At least that's how I remember it." The song weaves a personal tale of the trials of transitioning into adulthood, realizing many of the things you once loved are no longer here.
     “Something About This Place” by Thrillhouse
Lyrics of “Something About This Place” by Thrillhouse (numerous best guesses)
Time to wake up, it's been too long
Those good old days have been and gone
The rusty frame has been replaced
Now there's nothing to climb, memories erased
The open gate that never closed
Well, it's been sealed up, nut by nut
It's been time to move on for way too long
What's the point of just hanging on?
But then it all comes flooding back
Can't keep it out
I've been here for 25 years
But I can't keep it out of my head
It all comes flooding back
And I cannot forget
I don't know what it is
But it's something about this place
Oh yeah
I remember when I was 10
Things will never be that good again
Those haunted dreams they still exist
But they’re surrounded by some thick ol’ mist
Well Johnnie McLeod, she showed me how
And the other two were so damn cool
I go back from time to time, things have changed
So have I
But then it all comes flooding back
Can't keep it out
Now I've been here for 25 years
But I can't keep it out of my head
It all comes flooding back
And I cannot forget
I don't know what it is
But it's something about this place
Oh I don’t know
But I got to look back
Maybe it's time that I start again
Oh, I can't tell which way to turn
Maybe it's time I go it alone
Maybe it's time to give it a try
Turn around and start again
Maybe it's time to figure it out
I don't know what it is
But it's something about this place

Friday, March 24, 2023

“Magical Touch” and “Otherside” by The Wans – Song Features


     The Wans are preparing to release an eleven-song LP on the 11th anniversary of their first EP. The LP “Magical Touch” is scheduled to drop on July 26, 2023. Thus far, two rousing singles are available, including the title track. The album was recorded and mixed using vintage recording equipment and minimal overdubs, which regular concert-goers will readily recognize as the best formula for the ability to perform songs in a live setting without reducing the authenticity of the show by using techniques such as pre-recorded backing tracks.
     Interestingly, both currently available songs from the upcoming LP are unapologetically Rock while having intelligent insights into romantic relationships. That’s particularly accurate for the title track, “Magic Touch,” which was motivated by a 1958 movie. The lyrics of the song are included in this post. The third line is the name of the 65-year-old movie, “Bell, Book, and Candle,” which is a story about a “modern-day” (1958) witch who enchants a neighbor to shift his love from his fiancée to her. Thus, the lyrics reference witchcraft, stirring the potion, and casting spells.

     Instrumentally, “Magical Touch” begins with a somewhat inelegant chime and then The Wans hit the ground running. The song has an intentionally gritty feel. The energy is at its highest during the bridge that begins at 2:07. But the chorus is not far behind and is likely to induce fans to sing alone during concerts.
     The Wans are based in Nashville, Tennessee. The band is fronted by Simon Kerr and includes Thomas Bragg (bass), Noah Denney (drums), and Akshay Narang (keys and guitar). While talking about the upcoming LP, Kerr said:
  “There are certainly hints of 80’s and 90’s Brit-Pop influences, but the songwriting has become more focused and that’s not an overthought. My dad, Tony Kerr, has been my main songwriting partner since I was 16. Some father-son’s bond over fishing, but we bond over writing songs. It’s become effortless when we write together.”
    Bragg added:
  “Simon and I have been so excited with what’s going on in the Irish/British music scene in the last few years. Bands like Idles and Fontaines D.C have made some of the best records of the last decade and I think that definitely had an effect on our music and this record.”
     “Magical Touch” by The Wans

Lyrics of “Magical Touch” by The Wans
Your love is hard to handle
Bell, Book and a Candle
You set it alight
Your love is what I’m under
One or the other
What happens tonight?
Run out of places to hide
You hold the secret inside
You cast a spell over us
You got the magical touch
Can't shake
The charm you gave me
Daybreak it′s still on me
You set me alight
Stirrin' the potion
You read every emotion
I'll take it tonight
Run out of places to hide
You hold the secret inside
You cast a spell over us
You got the magical touch
You got the magical touch
Run out of places to hide
You hold the secret inside
You cast a spell over us
You got the magical touch [3 times]
You got the magical touch [3 times]

     Simon Kerr explained the meaning of the second song release for the LP:
   “’Otherside’ is a coming of age kind of a song as much as it is a love song. In my earlier years, I was most likely a bit of an idiot and selfishly broke a few people’s hearts, which I regret. That’s where this song comes in. It’s about finding love and realizing that’s the person you’re supposed to be with. ‘I would break hearts one after the other until I found you.’ As much as it is about love it’s also about growth as a person and being a good human being. Ha. We can’t all be 20 years old forever can we? That’s not saying we don’t all stumble and fall every now and then. Aside from the subject matter, the song has my favorite guitar solo on the record. A 1969 Univox superfuzz into a 1964 vibroverb that was cranked. Total Search & Destroy sound (The Stooges).”
     The Wans begin “Otherside” with a cleaner sound than in the title track of the LP. The bass is as crisp as a bass can be. But the song soon takes a turn into the Garage sound. Again talking about the LP, Kerr said:
  “The Wans’ have always shared a brotherhood and love for making Rock n’ Roll, which is much needed in today’s overall climate and music scene. Lyrically, this record purposefully radiates self-awareness, love, and togetherness. The Wans’ are everything to me. When it comes to the song’s they’re all we have. The great Joe Strummer once said, ‘People have got to stop pretending they're not in the world. It's time to take that humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Think on that. Without people you're nothing.’”
     “Otherside” by The Wans

Monday, March 20, 2023

“Colour of Joy” by Dilly Dally – A Song Feature


     Dilly Dally released a pair of breakup songs, but with a twist. Instead of the end of a romantic relationship, the band announced it is disbanding. The picture in this post shows an empty stage, while fans of Dilly Dally patiently stand near the stage. In an Instagram post on March 2, Dilly Dally stated:
  “We wanted to say goodbye on a positive note. That's why we are self-releasing two new songs today. Recorded close to home in Toronto, they came about naturally over the last year or so.”
     Ironically, one of the songs is about recovering from the difficulty of a relationship, so that the couple can again see the “Colour of Joy.” Truthfully, we are relying on the understanding of the lyrics by others, since we struggle with deciphering the lyrics given the vocal style. The highlight of the song is the strong guitar work, with the vocal passion distinguishing the song from others we find blogworthy.
     Dilly Dally is a Canadian band formed by Enda Monks (rhythm guitar and vocals), Liz Ball (lead guitar), Annie Jane Marie (bassist) and Benjamin Reinhartz (drummer.
     “Colour of Joy” by Dilly Dally

Friday, March 17, 2023

“So Far From Where I Started From” by Thrillhouse – A Song Feature


     The song from Thrillhouse moves with the guitar power of War on Drugs, but with touches that are characteristic of the band. “So Far From Where I Started From” is about the inability to “grow up.”  The band explains that it is “an introspective and personal exploration of growing up, nostalgia and the feeling of not finding your place yet.”
     Thrillhouse are based in Brighton, UK. They are preparing for the release the album “Something About This Place.”  The album will feature “So Far From Where I Started From.”
     “So Far From Where I Started From” by Thrillhouse

Monday, March 13, 2023

“The Pace” by 5th PROJEKT – A Song Feature


      It’s appropriate for a song with the title “The Pace” to establish a momentum within the first seconds. The bass and drums drive the intro of the single from 5th PROJEKT, while the guitars provide texture. The voice of Tara Rice enters after 37 seconds, and the song is fully launched. The pace does vary. There is a temporary deceleration around the two-minute mark. And there is a powerful guitars-built crescendo during the final minute.
     5th PROJEKT is based in Toronto, Canada. Its core members are Tara Rice (vocals) and multi-instrumentalist Sködt McNalty. For “The Pace,” McNalty plays electric guitar, e-bow, fuzz bass, and synth. The drums are by David Pake, but in concert Rice and McNalty are joined by Peter Broadley (bass) and Jeremy Oram (drums).
     The latest EP of 5th PROJEKT is “The Wolf,” which features an almost nine-minute version of “The Pace” as one of four songs. The band identifies” The Wolf” as the first of three EPs:
   “This trilogy of EPs was inspired by 40 days of walking together under the Milky Way along ley lines of the Camino Santiago de Compostela, (also known as The Way of The Goddess, or simply, The Way) and the Camino Finisterre (which literally means, the end of the world). One of the many lessons learned along The Way was ‘know thyself’ which includes limitations. This lesson is why the musical dynamic duo asked their friend and previous live drummer, David Pake, to join them in the studio to record 'The Pace.'”
     “The Pace” by 5th PROJEKT
Lyrics of “The Pace” by 5th PROJEKT
All the dreams lead here to being
All thoughts bear weight
And here we go now on our way to somewhere
Lost inside old words
When the foot once moved
We moved by
And the mind was here
And the path was now
One look before you, now off you go
Into the sunset and its wake
Walk on forever, walk on forever
Walk on forever
Wrap yourself in darkness, begin at dawn
Leave all your worries
This is the beginning, what worlds will you fare
This is your story
Look beyond the glass
Feel the time pass
Pass the trees by
Wonder how time flies so fast
We are on our way
Night becomes the day
Light becomes our way
And orchestrates the pace
The pace [Repeating]

Friday, March 10, 2023

“Vanish” by Blueburst – A Song Feature


     There was a time when guitars roamed the world as undisputed rulers. There were other instruments that were critical to the health of the ecosystem, such as the drums. But for more than a decade that began in the 60s and continued into the 70s, the guitar was the dominant species. In some ways, today is superior because we can readily visit the heyday of the guitar using one of our favorite music platforms. And occasionally, a song such as Blueburst’s “Vanish” appears, allowing us to experience in real time the excitement that guitar enthusiasts once felt on a far more frequent basis.
     The bio at the website of Blueburst describes their sound as “lush, guitar-based Alternative Rock, firmly rooted in 80’s Alternative and Post-punk, but with a timeless feel and foot pounding pace.” We aren’t so arrogant to claim to have a better understanding of their genre and roots. But for “Vanish,” we identify 1971. The song features 12-string guitars, which were played by far more musicians at that time. Of course, the synthesizer was not commonplace in 1971, but that was the year The Who released "Won't Get Fooled Again" with its iconic synth-like effect of a standard organ. Blueburst seems to give nod to The Who in general and Keith Moon’s drumming in particular when “Vanish” exits a synth-driven segment at 3:49.

     The vocals are strong and the lyric of “Vanish” are interesting. The lyrics are included at the bottom of this post. The voice belongs to Craig Douglas Miller, who is reviving a music career he’d once written off. Miller is 50 years old, which is older than most musicians preparing to release a debut album, but far too young to have first-hand experience with the 60s and 70s. After major label interest for his Alt-Rock band in the 1990’s never quite panned out, Miller entered a 20-year musical hibernation, the result of untreated depression, writer’s block, and “a few too many gin and tonics” as Miller puts it.

      Miller was motivated to leave his hibernation when he found a trusted mentor and collaborator in guitarist Marty Willson-Piper (The Church, Noctorum, and All About Eve). The other musicians of Blueburst include drummer Michael Jerome (Better than Ezra, John Cale) and bassist Ryan Kelly (Dayroom).  
     Miller explains that his lyrics “reflect the angsty times we’ve all recently experienced, through the lens of his renewed lust for life and music.” Blueburst will release singles each month through the summer, and a full LP in Fall 2023.
     The band is named after the finish on Miller’s favorite guitar. And he says he is “ripping off” an idea by Peter Gabriel in releasing a piece of art with each song release. The art for “Vanish” is a watercolor done by his wife Holly. He says:
  “She, as the tortured artist, is convinced that it’s terrible. But I love it, and I think it really captures the mood of the song, the idea of just leaving all the angst behind and getting the hell out of dodge.”
      We listen to “Vanish” and think of the movie “Field of Dreams.” Near the end of the movie, the character played by James Earl Jones gave a monologue explaining the importance of Ray’s baseball field to the connection people have to their history, despite the many changes over time. The speech can be adapted to reference Rock and “Vanish:”
  The one constant through all the years of Rock has been guitar. Genres have rolled by like an army of steamrollers. Rock has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But guitar has marked the time. This song -- it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”
     “Vanish” by Blueburst
Lyrics of “Vanish” by Blueburst
Ride with me, she said
Let's get gone
We're no good this way
Barely hanging on.
There's no pot of gold
For sticking out another year
In a picture show that no one pictured
A hell that no one feared.
Why are we the ones who have to care?
Why don't we just vanish in thin air?
I'm not strong enough to carry
It's not our fault, so let's be on our merry way
Let's give up today.
All behind us, she said
Clear ahead
They won't even miss us
Never heard a word we said.
It's their world that they created
And they're not gonna change
They're the ones who lied and hated
Terrified by strange.
Why are we the ones who have to care?
Why don't we just vanish in thin air?
They built a world where they are ruling
Why should we endure their drooling power play?
Let's get out today.
Why are we the ones who have to care?
Why don't we just vanish in thin air?
I hope that hope prevails at last
But this all moves too fast to lose another day
Let's give up today
Let's give up today
Let's give up

Friday, March 3, 2023

“Paper Thin” by Instant Empire - A Song Feature


     At the risk of being sentenced to stoning as a heretic preaching blasphemy of the musical holy, we assert that “Paper Thin” stands up well in a comparison to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The clearest parallel is the piano, which has an elegance that far exceeds its complexity. Both Instant Empire and Queen employ the piano as the accompaniment during a ballad segment of their songs. And both singles then migrate from the piano-driven ballad format into a guitar-featured segment, although “Bohemian Rhapsody” is undeniably more Rock. We also point to the shared qualities of (1) church choir-like harmonization and (2) a lyrical conclusion that is best described as a reflective coda.
      The lyrics of “Paper Thin” are included in this post. They are masterful! Briefly, the song from Instant Empire is about an epiphany. But The lyrics can be broken into sections, with the first section providing a description of the time and place of the epiphany. It was the last day of the year and it was near the Sangre de Cristos Mountains (which are around the border of Colorado and New Mexico). The time/place stamp then gives way to a recognition of your own smallness and a confession of vulnerability. That’s followed by a declaration and finally the reflective coda, which concludes with “And for once in my life, I’m at ease.” The lyrical ending is positive and gratifying. But our highest praise goes the previous verse of vulnerability and anthemic declaration:
I am so paper thin that a strong gust of wind might send me spinning and skimming.
And eventually I'll sink within.
It'll end me
But not today. Oh, not today. Oh, not today
This is not the day that'll end me
     Instant Empire is based in Denver, Colorado. The members are Scotty Saunders (vocals, lyrics), Sean Connaughty (guitar, keys), Lou Kucera (guitar, keys), Jacob Porter (bass), and Tristan Kelley (drums). They are nearing the March 31 release of the album “Standing Eight Count.”  Regarding their song “Paper Thin” and its placement on the album, Saunders explained:
  "With some songs, you can recall exactly where you were when you began writing. 'Paper Thin’ is one of those songs: December 31, 2019, driving north across the New Mexico border into Colorado. It was one of those perfectly clear, blue-sky days. Maybe the words for this song were influenced by the hope that often accompanies a new year? Regardless, 2019 had been a tough year. Little did I know when I started writing this song what the years 2020-21 would have in store.
  Sometimes on a long drive, you enter that weird mind-state where you’re moving through space and time at great speeds, but your mind enters a bit of a dream-like state … and you allow it to wander. I remember rounding a corner during that drive, and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range came into full view. Whitecap mountains framed against a clear blue sky.
   Life often feels fleeting. Especially the good moments. I remember driving north, somewhat in awe of the mountain skyline … and for the first time, letting my mind wander, feeling like however small the year and age had made me feel, that in that moment, it felt like everything was alright. Maybe I could let go of my worries, the troubles we drag around behind us for years, lifetimes … in that moment, I felt resilient and hopeful.
   Like any feeling of jubilation, it faded. But, driving north on I-25, I started frantically scribbling the words to the song in my head. Those words scribbled on the drive that day remain mostly unchanged in the song that ultimately became Paper Thin. This is the final song on an album that is unbearably dark in spots … it was really important to me that we end the album with a glimmer of fleeting hope illuminating all the darkness that came before it. ‘Paper Thin’ serves as a moment of hope on Standing Eight Count. Equal parts resilient and resigned.
   Musically we really wanted to make sure we gave this song space. The instrumentation is super sparse, but in typical Instant Empire fashion, the song builds into something big … nearly exploding towards the end, in perfect harmony to the lyrical sentiment that comes along with the joy of letting go … of finally being at ease. This seemed the perfect and logical end to the album. We hope you find something in it …"
     “Paper Thin” by Instant Empire
Lyrics of “Paper Thin” by Instant Empire
Yeah, I'd been going through a rough patch
But on the final day of the year
Under the Sangre de Cristos
The air was crisp and clear
Those whitecaps were majestic
I was walking on tiptoes
A clarity came over me
I was open and exposed
Everything was bigger than me
And taller than I'd ever be
As far as my eyes could see
I felt invisible, floating on the breeze
I know this feeling will eventually pass
Always terrible with my first drafts
But in the moment
I felt sun splashed
Tiny in a world so vast
I am so paper thin
That a strong gust of wind might send me
Spinning and skimming
And eventually I'll sink within
It'll end me
But not today
Oh, not today
Oh, not today
This is not the day
That'll end me
I'm at ease!
And the captain,
It is not something that I have to be
And if I’m lost at sea
Well then that's alright
Even if we lose the light
And for once in my life
I'm at ease

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

“Capital Karma” by Manchester Orchestra – A Song Feature

     Few bands can match the ability of Manchester Orchestra to pull a listener into the emotion of a song. The accuracy of that statement shines brightly with the release of “Capital Karma.” We are drawn into the sentiment of the song without have any notion of what the song is about until the final verse. The chorus does provide a hint with the statement “All I wanna do is wait for you.” But we don’t care; we’re invested in the emotion regardless of the message. Then, the final verse is presented by layered vocals that seem devotional. We assume that the verse is speaking to a love interest, but the verse is suitable for praise to a deity:
I'm not trying to stand in the way
I'm in love with whoеver you are
Nothing here is gonna take that away
It is you and it's been from the start
      It is important to note that the piano provides a meaningful assist in conveying the sentiment of “Capital Karma.” And the production is skillful. The members of Manchester Orchestra are Andy Hull (vocals, guitar), Robert McDowell (guitar, vocals), Tim Very (drums), and Andy Prince (bass). Ethan Gruska played piano for “Capital Karma.”
     The single is from the upcoming album “The Valley Of Vision,” which will also be a virtual reality film. The album will be released on March 10, while the film will debut the day before as a watch party on the band’s YouTube channel. Andy Hull said:
  “Making The Valley Of Vision was an exciting idea of what the future could be for us in terms of how we create,” Hull says. “None of these songs were written with the band being in the same room in a live setting. They were really like science experiments that started from the bottom and were added to gradually over time. We’re intrigued by doing things the wrong way, or attempting things we haven’t done before and getting inspired by them.”

     “Capital Karma” by Manchester Orchestra

Lyrics of “Capital Karma” by Manchester Orchestra
When the message was over
By the house
Near the grave
So you wander in, aimless
For a while
And went away
It was Carman departing
Was it wrong?
In a way
I defended your drama
I'm a heart
You're a brain
All I wanna do is wait
For you
All I wanna do is wait
For you
There's nothing left to say
This capital carnage
On a float
A parade
Now you're craving your karma
Where'd it go?
And what'd it say?
All I wanna do is wait
For you
All I wanna do is wait
For you
There's nothing left to say
Am I losing my patience?
I feel it
I’m afraid that you know
You can see it
Let me stand by the door
Let me breathe in
I forgave myself
So forgivе yourself
I'm not trying to stand in the way
I'm in love with whoеver you are
Nothing here is gonna take that away
It is you and it's been from the start